As DawnWatch goes on holiday break, till January 5, I leave you with what is surely the biggest veggie story of the year -- perhaps many years. Mad Cow Disease has been discovered in the United States. A sample taken from a "downer" cow (meaning one so sick she had to be dragged to slaughter) in Washington State, on December 9, has tested "presumptive positive." The meat from the cow went to two processing plants in Washington State, though according to the New York Times web article, "officials stressed that the meat did not come from parts of the animal that are known to harbor the mad cow agent."

 Animals harbor the disease for many years before showing symptoms, and generally only those too sick to walk are tested. So now that we know the disease is in the United States, it would seem unrealistic to imagine that no other cows with the disease had been slaughtered without being tested. And since a Holstein is a dairy cow, and over 80% of hamburger meat in the United States comes from dairy cows, and one hamburger can contain meat from hundreds of ground up animals, it would not seem unwarranted to suspect that the disease has entered the human food chain.

 You can find out more about the issue on the New York Times website at:


 Tomorrow and over the next few days the story will be in every paper in America (and most around the world) probably on the front page. Many Americans will go off beef -- and perhaps be inclined to eat more of other animals instead. Please don't miss this opportunity to send a letter to the editor of your paper reminding people that a diet free of animal products is a healthful and compassionate choice.

A huge proportion of letters received by smaller papers are published, and larger papers will always publish a letter or two on a subject about which they receive many (unless the letters carry similar phrasing and are thus clearly the result of an orchestrated activism effort). So the few minutes you take to jot down a few veg-friendly lines are well spent.

I sign off sending much love to our animal protection community and a huge thank you to all who have written letters on behalf of the animals throughout the year. I wish us all a happy and healthy holiday season and vigor with which to continue the good fight in 2004.



The December 22 Bizarro cartoon is a winner!


I have pasted it above, but for those who only receive text on their browsers: We see a woman dressed in a huge fur coat, walking a pretty little dog. A young woman, bending down to pet the dog says, "She's so cute! Would you take $100 for her? I've got a jacket she'd make the PERFECT collar for."

 Bizarro is a syndicated newspaper cartoon that appears in approximately 200 newspapers around the world. In the US, those papers include the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dallas Morning News, Miami Herald, Boston Herald, San Diego Union Tribune, Denver Post, Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit News, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Las Vegas Sun, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Nashville Cit Paper, Houston Chronicle, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In Canada they include the Vancouver Sun, Toronto Globe and Mail, and the Montreal Gazette.

 If your paper carries the cartoon, you have a perfect excuse for an anti fur letter to the editor, quoting the cartoon and expressing appreciation for the sentiment. If you have any trouble finding the correct email address for a letter to the editor, don't hesitate to ask me for help.

 If your paper does not carry Bizarro, you might want to contact the paper and try to change that. Bizarro is a superb, award winning cartoon, and its creator, Dan Piraro, is an outspoken animal rights activist. If you go to his website, http://www.bizarro.com/ and click on "Animal Stuff" you are in for a treat. You'll find a short essay, "Why I'm Vegan," another headed, "Are Humans Carnivores?" some great quotes, and....LOTS OF ANIMAL FRIENDLY CARTOONS that have appeared in papers all over the world! Check it out.


Since DawnWatch is a national major media alert list, I would generally not send out, to all of my subscribers, an article in the Press-Enterprise from the Riverside County area. (Though the paper is not tiny, with a circulation of over 100,000.) But I had to send out an alert on this astounding front page story, which includes some of the most graphic, distressing photos I have ever seen (which I will paste below) including one, on the front page, of an adorable puppy being killed be lethal injection. I am sure the paper is going to get plenty of flak for offending its readers, so I hope to encourage many supportive comments as well.

 The front page story (Sunday, December 21) headed "No Sanctuary," by Bonnie Stuart, is huge. And pages A12, 13, and 14 are filled with nothing but articles and shocking photos on the shelter and companion animal overpopulation crises. Further, the paper notes that this is part 1 of a two part series, with more coming tomorrow (Monday, December 22.) I recommend checking out the paper's website: http://www.pe.com/

 We learn, "In 2002, Inland-area shelter workers killed about 63 percent of the 113,955 dogs and cats that entered shelters alive." And that according to Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster, "politicians haven't provided funding for comprehensive services...The county needs to hire more animal-control workers, improve the shelter, provide more spay-neuter services and do more to reach the Latino population."

The front page article, and those inside the paper, include heartbreaking stories of individual relinquishments and deaths.

You'll find the lead story, "No Sanctuary" on line at:


 Other stories are headed:

 'People call us murderers'  --EUTHANIZING: The job takes a toll on conflicted shelter staffs. Many workers lean on each other.

You'll find it at:



"For officer, another grueling day in a city of strays"


 They are accompanied by shocking photos, both in the print version of the paper and on the web. I will paste some of those photographs below.

 The paper has asked for feedback on the story:


"If you have comments about these stories, please call (909) 368-9998 or send e-mail to pets@pe.com. Leave your name and phone number if you would like a call back during the coming week."

Please send a quick note of thanks.

And I send a quick note of thanks to superb California activist Priscilla Gargalis, for making sure we knew about this spread.

Paul Alvarez/The Press- Enterprise

"A sick puppy sits quietly as it is killed with an injection of pentobarbital at the San Bernardino County Animal Shelter in Devore.In 2002, Inland-area shelter workers euthanized about 63 percent of the dogs and cats that entered shelters."




Paul Alvarez/The Press-Enterprise

A barrel of euthanized cats sits in a freezer at the San Bernardino County Animal Shelter in Devore.



Paul Alvarez/The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County animal control supervisor Chris Springer (left) and animal control officer Kelly Turner remove several dead dogs after a morning of euthanizating.





The front page of the Sunday, December 21, Atlanta Journal Constitution included a lengthy, distressing story, by Charles Seabrook, headed, "Endangered Creatures for Sale. Illegal animal trade reaps billions yearly."

It opens with a smuggler being "tongue-lashed' by U.S. District Judge John Antoon: "Your crimes are reprehensible. They not only are a form of animal cruelty, they also endanger public health." We read that "Antoon wished out loud that he could sentence Chye to a much longer sentence than the 37 months federal guidelines allow."

We learn, "Tens of thousands of endangered wild creatures from Brazil, Indonesia, Ghana and other countries are being smuggled each year to black markets in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. Traffickers entice native people --- often resourceful children --- to capture coveted animals from rain forests and other wild habitats. A hyacinth macaw bought for $100 from an impoverished Amazon youngster can fetch as much as $10,000 from collectors in the United States and Europe."

The danger to human health is discussed, "Both of this year's novel scourges, monkeypox and SARS, stemmed from contact with wild animals. And West Nile virus may have originated in the United States with an infected smuggled bird."

And we learn that after the shock of capture, the cruelty of years of imprisonment is not what most of the animals suffer: "Authorities figure that as many as 75 percent of the smuggled creatures die on their long, hot, airless journey."

Some of the imports are legal, whereas others are of endangered species. We learn that it is a common ploy to stash endangered species with the legal animals. For example, we read about one notorious smuggler, "To fool airport customs and wildlife inspectors, he bound the rare animals with tape so they couldn't move and stuffed them in burlap bags stapled to the bottom of shipping crates. Many died from the harsh shipping conditions, but Wong stood to profit as long as some survived."

We read, "Not all smuggled animals come through cargo facilities." Many are hidden the clothing of airline passengers. And we learn that Chye, whose sentencing hearing opened the article, sent most of his animals via FedEx, labeled as books, magazines, lamps or other merchandise."

We read about exotic pet shows, where many of the animals on display have been bred in captivity, but we are told  "if you go to a pet show or a store to buy an exotic pet, you really have no foolproof way of knowing if it's legal or not."

 You'll find the whole article on line at:


 The front page story provides a great opportunity for letters to the editor appreciative of the article and against keeping wild animals as pets.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution takes letters at: letters@ajc.com 


Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.


The Friday, December 19, International Herald Tribune includes a commentary piece by Tom Regan and Martin Rowe, headed: "Animal Rights: What the Nobel Committee failed to note." (Pg. 9)

 Tom Regan is well-known in our movement as the author of 'The Case for Animal Rights.' You can find out about his new book, "Empty Cages" at http://tomregan-animalrights.com/. Martin Rowe is the author of "Nicaea: A Book of Correspondences" and the Director of Publishing and Vice-President of Booklight Inc. and Lantern Books: http://www.lanternbooks.com/

 The article expresses regret that the issue of animal rights was not brought to light when an animal rights sympathizer (one might say advocate) accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature.

 It opens,

"When South African novelist J. M. Coetzee was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature earlier this month, the world observed again a form of apartheid all too familiar to some admirers of his impressive body of work."

 Regan and Rowe mention that Coetzee himself has noted the critics' lack of interest in the animal themes that run through his books -- though those themes are impossible to miss. Coetzee's latest novel, Elizabeth Costello, features a staunch animal rights activist, and details the cruelties our species levels at others. Regan and Rowe note some of those abuses in the commentary piece, then write "As Costello wearily asks, how is it possible that the great mass of humanity fails to recognize what humans do to animals for the great evil that it is?"

 They continue, "Like the Nobel awarded to writer and fellow animal advocate Isaac Bashevis Singer a quarter century ago, Coetzee's prize should shake our complacent acceptance that cruelty to others -- human or non-human -- is simply a matter of cultural norms. Violence is not discrete, and, as science increasingly demonstrates, suffering is no longer the exclusive experience of the human."

 Playing on the title of Coetzee's Booker Prize winning novel "Disgrace," in which the the killing of unwanted dogs, detailed for the reader, profoundly effects the previously detached protagonist, Regan and Rowe write:

 "We believe there is no disgrace in speaking for animals, no disgrace in caring for their treatment and demanding their liberation. Even though the taciturn, vegetarian Coetzee did not have the opportunity to mention animals in Oslo, his work urges his readers to confront, with the same unblinking eye he brings to his writing on the human condition, obscenities like factory farming, useless animal experimentation, trophy hunting and the casual way millions of surplus 'pets' are euthanized each year."

 The full commentary piece can be found on line at: http://www.iht.com/articles/122038.html

 We can express our delight that this piece has appeared in the International Herald Tribune by sending appreciative letters to the editor in support of animal rights. The Tribune takes letters at: letters@iht.com

 Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

 I would disagree that Coetzee "did not have the opportunity to mention animals in Oslo." (And I believe he actually spoke in Stockholm.) His was the floor, on which he could take the stance of his choosing. He was asked by some activists to use the limelight to help promote the cause of animal rights, and he could have done so. However, Coetzee is known to be reticent with regard to offering his own opinions on social matters -- he chooses instead to speak through his characters -- though he says they speak for themselves.

 It is also not fair to suggest that Coetzee did not mention animals in his speech. The speech was delivered in the voice of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe's classic character who Coetzee revisited in his novel "Foe." The address opens with a moving depiction of animal cruelty. I will share that opening with you below. And you can read the whole speech on line at:


 Here is the first section of Coetzee's speech delivered at the Nobel ceremony:

"He and his man


But to return to my new companion. I was greatly delighted with him, and made it my business to teach him everything that was proper to make him useful, handy, and helpful; but especially to make him speak, and understand me when I spoke; and he was the aptest scholar there ever was.


-- Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

"Boston, on the coast of Lincolnshire, is a handsome town, writes his man. The tallest church steeple in all of England is to be found there; sea-pilots use it to navigate by. Around Boston is fen country. Bitterns abound, ominous birds who give a heavy, groaning call loud enough to be heard two miles away, like the report of a gun.

"The fens are home to many other kinds of birds too, writes his man, duck and mallard, teal and widgeon, to capture which the men of the fens, the fen-men, raise tame ducks, which they call decoy ducks or duckoys.

"Fens are tracts of wetland. There are tracts of wetland all over Europe, all over the world, but they are not named fens, fen is an English word, it will not migrate.

"These Lincolnshire duckoys, writes his man, are bred up in decoy ponds, and kept tame by being fed by hand. Then when the season comes they are sent abroad to Holland and Germany. In Holland and Germany they meet with others of their kind, and, seeing how miserably these Dutch and German ducks live, how their rivers freeze in winter and their lands are covered in snow, fail not to let them know, in a form of language which they make them understand, that in England from where they come the case is quite otherwise: English ducks have sea shores full of nourishing food, tides that flow freely up the creeks; they have lakes, springs, open ponds and sheltered ponds; also lands full of corn left behind by the gleaners; and no frost or snow, or very light.

"By these representations, he writes, which are made all in duck language, they, the decoy ducks or duckoys, draw together vast numbers of fowl and, so to say, kidnap them. They guide them back across the seas from Holland and Germany and settle them down in their decoy ponds on the fens of Lincolnshire, chattering and gabbling to them all the time in their own language, telling them these are the ponds they told them of, where they shall live safely and securely.

"And while they are so occupied the decoy-men, the masters of the decoy-ducks, creep into covers or coverts they have built of reeds upon the fens, and all unseen toss handfuls of corn upon the water; and the decoy ducks or duckoys follow them, bringing their foreign guests behind. And so over two or three days they lead their guests up narrower and narrower waterways, calling to them all the time to see how well we live in England, to a place where nets have been spanned.

"Then the decoy-men send out their decoy dog, which has been perfectly trained to swim after fowl, barking as he swims. Being alarmed to the last degree by this terrible creature, the ducks take to the wing, but are forced down again into the water by the arched nets above, and so must swim or perish, under the net. But the net grows narrower and narrower, like a purse, and at the end stand the decoy men, who take their captives out one by one. The decoy ducks are stroked and made much of, but as for their guests, these are clubbed on the spot and plucked and sold by the hundred and by the thousand.

"All of this news of Lincolnshire his man writes in a neat, quick hand, with quills that he sharpens with his little pen-knife each day before a new bout with the page."


Coetzee's latest novel, 'Elizabeth Costello,' is largely a series of lessons delivered by the novel's protagonist.  Two of the lessons are searing and challenging arguments for animal rights which go so far as to draw the holocaust comparison; that is an analogy from which most people, even some of the leaders of our movement, shy away. Wouldn't the most recent novel from the winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature make a great holiday gift? You can buy it at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0670031305/dawnwatch

The two animal rights lessons were originally published in the 1999 novel "The Lives of Animals" (which came from a lecture series presented at Princeton University.) Those only interested in Coetzee's animal rights presentations might prefer that novel, which includes chapters written in response to Costello's arguments, by Marjorie Garber, Peter Singer, Wendy Doniger, and Barbara Smuts. You can buy it at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/069107089X/dawnwatch

NATIONAL REVIEW -- PETA VS KFC   -- 12/22/03 edition

The December 22 issue of the conservative magazine the National Review includes an article (p27), by Jay Nordlinger, headed "PETA vs.. KFC."

 Nordlinger opens:

"Eaten at KFC lately? Well, shame on you -- at least that's what PETA would say. PETA, of course, is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the most notorious and influential animal-rights group in the country. And KFC is the chain once known, more amply, as Kentucky Fried Chicken. PETA has been on a fierce campaign against KFC, charging that the company treats chickens inhumanely, or at least allows its suppliers to. KFC, naturally, denies the charge. Who's right? And what is a fan of the Colonel, who is nevertheless a foe of animal abuse, to do?"

He questions PETA's credibility, mentioning its offensive campaigns, inflammatory comments from its leaders, and its 'ties to terrorism" -- money donated to the Earth Liberation Front, "which is number one on the FBI's domestic-terror list."

He writes, "KFC can say -- and does say -- quite persuasively, Don't listen to these kooks. Their real aim is that you don't eat any chicken at all -- or drink milk or own a cat. Come on!"

He notes some of PETA's successes, writing, "What is not contested is that it's not good to cross PETA, unless you want a world of grief, unrelentingly."

Then he addresses the issue at hand:

"In getting to the nitty-gritty, let's stipulate that chicken-raising and -killing is a dirty, unpretty business. It's almost a clich้ to say that, if you've ever been on a chicken farm, you don't ever want to eat a chicken. PETA circulates a film of abuses at a chicken plant, and the film is virtually impossible to watch. KFC says that it is misleading, as the practices depicted are either obsolete or aberrant. Whom to believe? In many of these disputes, it comes down to he said, she said -- and what common sense and intuition tell us. KFC has formed an 'animal-welfare advisory panel,' which sounds encouraging. PETA charges that the panel is a) stacked with corporate stooges and b) disregarded by the company anyway."

He outlines PETA's demands and notes that some of them seem quite reasonable. He writes, "When PETA is in moderate mode, it comes off as . . . well, non-crazy, and just. Why not 'mechanized gathering' instead of the manual variety, particularly in an ever-mechanizing world? And why not 'gas killing,' as a gentler alternative to the other stuff? KFC itself says that it is looking into the feasibility of such a change."

And he complains that KFC is not wiling to discuss the matter: "If you're a journalist -- even from a conservative opinion magazine! -- they won't talk to you. They will only fax you a two-sentence statement from a spokeswoman saying, in essence, Don't worry, be happy!"

He also lets us know that "PETA sued KFC for making false statements in its communications to the public. In September, it dropped the suit -- because KFC dramatically altered its line. This was a black eye for the company, and a rather startling victory for PETA."

Nordlinger's conclusion: "PETA is a radical group, maybe even a dangerous one, and its claims should be regarded with skepticism. But just because it says something, doesn't mean it's not true. KFC, like most companies, blows a little corporate smoke. Its interest is the bottom line, not the well-being of chickens. But it is far from a nefarious company; it's just another chicken buyer. PETA may force the more humane treatment of chickens, which would be splendid. But the business of serving chicken, and other meats, to many millions of customers will always be a little dirty, something from which sensitive people rather turn away, even as they tolerate it, and benefit from it.

"The PETA president, Ingrid Newkirk, has talked of finding Colonel Sanders's grave and dancing on it. Her group has promised that the company is 'in for a long battle.'  If the company has a case to make -- and it does -- it ought to fight back, and hard. For its foe is formidable, and well-wishers of both KFC and animals could use a little, honest reassurance."

Of course, if you are a chicken, KFC is most certainly a nefarious company. Still, that such an article, a balanced article, has appeared in a well known conservative magazine is another great sign that our movement is making progress. Animal rights and vegetarianism are often associated with liberalism, yet there are vegetarian conservatives -- even conservatives seriously involved in animal rights. A former editor of the National Review (and current speechwriter for George W. Bush) Matthew Scully, has written one of the most powerful animal protection books ever published: "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy."  (A great holiday present for conservative friends and family members:
www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312261470/dawnwatch/102-2381385-6470539 )

My point: The article headed "PETA vs. KFC" presents a great opportunity for letters to the editor reminding those conservative National Review readers that giving up chicken is an excellent way to avoid contributing to egregious cruelty.

Unfortunately, PETA vs. KFC is not yet available on line but you'll find it in the current edition of the National Review. The National Review takes letters at: letters@nationalreview.com  

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

You'll find loads of information on PETA's battle against KFC at http://www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com/

And always a superb source of information on the treatment of chickens, and why one might not want to eat them, or eggs, is the United Poultry Concerns website: http://www.upc-online.org/

TIME MAGAZINE -- GOT HORMONES?   12/22/03 edition

Milk issues are in another major publication - the December 22 issue of Time Magazine (p. 52.). The magazine includes an article, by Margot Roosevelt Leeds, headed, "Got Hormones? The simmering issue of milk labels boils over when an agrochemical giant sues small farmers in Maine."

The article tells us that Monsanto Corp, the company that markets recombinant bovine somatotropin (RBST) is fighting the right of farmers to label their product as free of artificial hormones. We learn that Monsanto "demanded last year that Maine suspend its official quality seal, which is granted only to milk from uninjected cows. When the state refused, Monsanto took another tack, suing one of Maine's leading dairies in federal court in Boston. The suit charged that Oakhurst Dairy, the company that buys Nutting's milk, is misleading consumers by advertising a no-artificial-hormone pledge, implying that its milk is safer and healthier."

The article tells us, "Critics claim - although studies are inconclusive - that using synthetic bovine growth hormone could lead to such health problems as premature puberty or even cancer. But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) studied the issue before it approved RBST in 1993, when it reported that tests showed no significant difference between the milk from treated and untreated cows. Several groups, including Consumers Union and the Center for Food Safety, say the tests did in fact reveal worrisome differences and that the FDA incorrectly interpreted the data."

We read that one-third of dairy herds in the United States are injected with RBST, and that the FDA has joined the fight against farmers and even states wishing to declare their milk free of it: "Lawsuits over labeling have forced the repeal of a Vermont hormone-disclosure law and stopped dairies in Illinois and Texas from touting their milk as RBST-free. Earlier this year the FDA took up the fight, warning producers in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Minnesota against using labels that say 'no hormones or 'hormone-free.'"

You can read the whole article at:

It presents a great opportunity for letters to the editor questioning the place of dairy products in a healthful and humane diet.

Time Magazine takes letters at: letters@time.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.


Great news!

 On Saturday, December 13, one of the world's leading newspapers, The Guardian (UK), published a lengthy article seriously questioning the place of cows' milk in a healthful diet and government subsidies for the dairy industry. The article looked at both the UK and the US. It is available on the web in two parts at the following addresses:

Part One:


Part Two:


 I highly recommend reading it, but will summarize it below for those who don't have the time to read a 5467 word piece.

 The article is headed, "DAIRY MONSTERS: We used to take it for granted that milk was good for us. But now the industry faces a crisis, with the public questioning such assumptions. So just how healthy is milk? Anne Karpf investigates."

Karpf notes that there is mounting scientific evidence that "regular consumption of large quantities of milk can be bad for your health, and campaigners are making a noise about the environmental and international costs of large-scale intensive European dairy farming." But she comments, "So thorough is our dairy indoctrination that it requires a total gestalt switch to contemplate the notion that milk may help to cause the very diseases it's meant to prevent....Today, there's a big bank of scientific evidence against milk consumption, alleging not only that it causes some diseases but, equally damning, that it fails to prevent others for which it has traditionally been seen as a panacea."

 She refers to the work of Frank Oski, former paediatrics director at Johns Hopkins school of medicine, "who estimated in his book Don't Drink Your Milk! that half of all iron deficiency in US infants results from cows' milk-induced intestinal bleeding." You can buy that book at:


 She discusses lactose intolerance, which causes "bloating, cramps, diarrhoea and farts.": "In 1965, investigators at Johns Hopkins found that 15% of all the white people and almost three-quarters of all the black people they tested were unable to digest lactose. Milk, it seemed, was a racial issue, and far more people in the world are unable than able to digest lactose. That includes most Thais, Japanese, Arabs and Ashkenazi Jews, and 50% of Indians."

 Karpf notes that milk critics say that the idea that osteoporosis is caused by calcium deficiency is "one of the great myths of our time." She writes, "In fact, the bone loss and deteriorating bone tissue that take place in osteoporosis are due not to calcium deficiency but rather to its resorption: it's not that our bodies don't get enough calcium, rather that they excrete too much of what they already have. So we need to find out what it is that's breaking down calcium stores in the first place, to the extent that more than one in three British women now suffers from osteoporosis. The most important culprit is almost certainly the overconsumption of protein. High-protein foods such as meat, eggs and dairy make excessive demands on the kidneys, which in turn leach calcium from the body. One solution, then, isn't to increase our calcium intake, but to reduce our consumption of protein, so our bones don't have to surrender so much calcium. Astonishingly, according to this newer, more critical view, dairy products almost certainly help to cause, rather than prevent, osteoporosis."

She notes, "American women are among the biggest consumers of calcium in the world, yet still have one of the highest levels of osteoporosis in the world" and that "Most Chinese people eat and drink no dairy products and... consume only half the calcium of Americans." Yet "osteoporosis is uncommon in China despite an average life expectancy of 70." Further, "In South Africa, Bantu women who eat mostly plant protein and only 200-350mg of calcium a day have virtually no osteoporosis, despite bearing on average six children and breastfeeding for prolonged periods. Their African-American brothers and sisters, who ingest on average more than 1,000mg of calcium a day, are nine times more likely to experience hip fractures."

 She quotes T Colin Campbell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University: "The association between the intake of animal protein and fracture rates appears to be as strong as that between cigarette smoking and lung cancer." Another quote from Campbell associates milk consumption with an increased risk of cancer: "Cows' milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed".

 Karpf discusses the conflicts of interest that have led to milk's status as the perfect food despite much scientific evidence to the contrary:

"Another reason why official policy on milk is often at odds with medical evidence lies in the conflict of government role, both in Britain and the US. The US department of agriculture, for example, has the twin, and often mutually incompatible, tasks of promoting agricultural products and providing dietary advice. In 2000, it was still recommending two to three servings of dairy products a day, to the rage of critics such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. PCRM claimed that six of the 11-member drafting panel had close ties with the meat, egg and dairy industries (five of them with dairy).

"Britain isn't free from conflict of interest, either. The government is heavily involved in encouraging us to drink milk."

 Karpf criticizes the UK's National Dairy Council advertisements, commenting, "Of course, it's no crime for the industry to promote itself; what's disturbing is its masquerading as a disinterested source of incontrovertible information."

 Karpf feels that perhaps the "most insidious dimension of the dairy fightback is funding research."

 The article discusses animal welfare concerns in detail. She starts with "the vegetarian fallacy" which allows people to separate the dairy and veal industries:

 "Alongside the researchers raising questions about milk sits the more inflammatory animal rights movement, which has recently focused its attention on dairy farming and what it argues is its intrinsic cruelty. For a long time, those concerned about animal welfare seemed magically to exempt milk from their preoccupations. They suffered from what Richard Young of the Soil Association calls 'the vegetarian fallacy': non-meat-eaters who still drink milk and so perpetuate the cycle that ends in crated veal calves destined for European dinner tables. Now many of them have begun to contend that, organic or not, there's no such thing as humane milk. For in order to lactate, cows - like humans - first have to get pregnant. Calves are essentially the waste by-product of the industry. What happens to them once they've done what they were created to do - stimulate a cow's milk production by the very fact of their being conceived?

"Male udderless cows are of no value to the dairy industry, so if prices for male calves are low and the veal route unprofitable, most are killed within a couple of weeks for baby food or pies, to make rennet, or sent to rendering plants to be turned into tallow or grease or, in other countries, animal feed. Female calves, on the other hand, are bred as replacement stock for their mothers. The provision of beef essentially originates in the dairy industry: if we didn't drink milk, we wouldn't have all that extra meat to get rid of.

"Though a male calf's life is unenviable, its mother's is no better. To ensure almost continuous lactation, she endures annual pregnancies. Her calf is removed from her within 24 hours of its birth. Calves hardly ever drink their mother's milk.

 She goes on to discuss the exhaustive exploitation of the cows' bodies:

"Like agribusinesses everywhere, milk producers have tried to increase output while cutting costs. The victims are the cows. Today, from the age of two, they're expected to produce up to 10,000 litres of milk during their 10-month lactation stint (before they dry off, are re-inseminated and the whole process starts up again). Milked once or twice (or even three times) daily while pregnant, they produce around 20 litres a day, 10 times as much as they'd need to feed a calf. The amount of milk cows are required to make each day has almost doubled in the past 30 years, because having a smaller number of high-yielding cows reduces a farmer's feed, fertiliser, equipment, labour and capital costs. That's why the variety of cattle breeds in Europe has declined so much - everyone wants the high-yielding black-and-white Holstein-Friesens.

"You don't need to be sentimental about animals to pity the poor bloated creatures, dragging around their vast, abnormally heavy udders. Many each year go lame, and they rarely live longer than four or five years, compared with a natural lifespan of around 25 years. Then they are slaughtered.

And she notes the pain of mastitis and its impact on human health:

"The official view is that not only do dairy farmers care about their cows, but that it's in their interests to keep them healthy. The reality is that overmilking, problems with cleanliness and the choice of high-yielding breeds together cause more than 30 incidents of mastitis per 100 British cows each year. Mastitis is a painful infection of the udder. Cows' mastitis has implications for human health, too, because to control infection farmers use more antibiotics."

 Finally, Karpf discusses government efforts to protect the dairy industry, such as the food disparagement acts introduced in 13 US states, and the UK's Common Agricultural Policy, which she writes is so absurd it "will have you thinking you've woken up in the middle of a Dali painting." She details the ways in which the government props up the dairy industry at the expense of small-scale farms in developing countries, human health, and animal welfare.

 She asks what the alternative might be, and notes that people don't want their eating habits policed.  "Yet," she writes, "what we eat and drink isn't just the result of individual choice and cultural tradition: the contents of our shopping trolleys are at least equally shaped by government policy and official decisions."

 She quotes Dr Tim Lobstein, co-director of the Food Commission, an independent watchdog on food issues, who "advocates the removal of all EU subsidies from dairy production, with the money going to support sustainable forms of food production, including some organic dairy farming." He comments, with regard to struggling dairy farmers: "I can't help to stay in business the producers of commodities that aren't helping human health - they'll have to find alternative employment. The EU should help farmers transfer to products more helpful to human health, such as horticulture." 

 Karpf calls for a national debate on milk production and consumption. She writes, "Part of this debate will have to be a frank appraisal of whether milk can jeopardise human health.... it seems increasingly clear that dairy products alone probably don't protect bone health in the way we've long thought, and that calcium intake on its own has only a small effect on bone density."

The article concludes: "At the same time (and Atkins notwithstanding), while some fats are essential, the human body does not thrive on excessive amounts of milk fat. Yet milk's connotations are so primordial, its associations so pastoral and the interests that promote it so enormous, that changing the way we think about it, and drink it, will be a process every bit as challenging and root-and-branch as the loss of unquestioning religious faith."

The appearance of this article  in one of the world's leading papers tells us that there has been a real shift in the perception of milk. And the article will surely further that shift. The Guardian deserves many appreciative letters to the editor. The paper takes letters at: letters@guardian.co.uk

It notes, "We do not publish letters where only an email address is supplied; please include a full postal address and a reference to the relevant article. If you do not want your email address published, please say so. We may edit letters."

I hope you will forward this article to those who assume that animal advocates who shun milk are extremists who put slight animal discomfort before great benefit to human health. The article should serve as quite a wake-up call.


An article in the Monday, December 15, USA Today is a sure sign that we have come a long way as a movement.

 Ringling Brothers has sent out a press release stating, "On December 5, 2003 at 9:25 a.m., Riccardo, a 232-pound male, Asian elephant, joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC) family."  I have no doubt that just a few years ago, such an announcement would have resulted in nothing but fluff pieces promoting Ringling's wonderful conservation efforts. But the article in today's USA Today (Pg. 7D) is headed, " Under the big top: Asian elephant conservation. Animal activists say it's just an act."


 Sure, we wish the article was an expose focusing exclusively on the cruelty of the circus. We'll get there. But having the animal rights point of view included in the headline is a sign that we have come very far.  Rather than just swallowing the circus's press release, the paper also sought the animal rights view. If I was into drinking before noon, I'd be breaking out the Verve Cliquot.

 The article, by Joe Eaton, presents the Ringling spin. It quotes Ringling's Kenneth Feld saying he is as proud and happy as he would be about having his own child.

It continues, "Riccardo was born at Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation, a private 200-acre breeding and elephant retirement facility near Tampa. The program has had 16 elephant births, including Riccardo's parents, since 1992. It expects four more arrivals in the next 18 months. Ringling has 64 Asian elephants, a third of which perform in the circus. The success of the breeding program is a success for the endangered Asian elephant, Feld says."

Then Eaton writes:

"Animal welfare groups, however, say Feld is using the breeding program to justify the circus's poor treatment of the elephants."

 Pointing out the disingenuousness of Ringling's position, HSUS's Wayne Pacelle is quoted: "'We're not just making them do tricks and keeping them in chains. We're saving elephants.' That's what they are saying."

And then Eaton includes information we can be sure Ringling Brothers didn't want in the story:

 "Three animal welfare groups and a former Ringling Bros. employee have filed suit in U.S. District Court charging that the circus's handling of Asian elephants violates the Endangered Species Act. The suit says that, among claims of abuse, the circus uses ropes and chains to forcibly remove nursing baby elephants from their mothers.

"John Kirtland, who oversees animal stewardship at the circus, acknowledges that ropes are used to separate baby elephants from their mothers, but he says it does not cause injury. 'It's a 2,000-pound animal,' he says of the young elephants. 'You ain't going to pull it by its ear.'

In the final lines we are reminded that the whole point of the conservation effort is to acquire elephants for the circus:  

 "Kirtland says Riccardo's future is uncertain. When he's 3 or 4 years old, his temperament will be evaluated to determine whether he will go to the circus. But because male elephants tend to be more aggressive than females, Riccardo may never see the big top."

 You can read the full article on line at: http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20031215/5759670s.htm

 Please thank USA Today for including the information about separating babies from mothers using ropes and chains, and reminding readers that a life in the circus is a life in chains (using your own words please). The story has given us a great opportunity to write letters to the editor providing more information on the cruelty of the circus. You'll find loads of information on the treatment of performing animals, including distressing footage of baby elephants being beaten during training sessions, at http://www.circuses.com/

USA Today takes letters at: editor@usatoday.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.


The Sunday, December 14, Akron Beacon Journal includes a column by Public Editor, Mike Needs, in response to reader complaints about a photo of freshly killed dogs in the city shelter's euthanasia room. The piece is headed, "You may not like it, but it's still news."

 He writes:

"Buried in Tuesday's paper, way back on Page A13, was a small photo showing three dead dogs in the 'kill room' of the Summit County Animal Shelter. It was part of an in-depth look at the controversy surrounding the shelter."

(Note: You will find that disturbing article, from Tuesday December 9, though not the photos, on line at: http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/7448561.htm )

He tells us that many readers wrote angry letters, with lines such as the following:

"I know what happens at the shelter. I DO NOT need it to slap me in the face!''

He responds, "Do we really know what goes on at the shelter? I thought I did until I read last week's series of stories. Record-keeping is haphazard. Kittens get needles big enough to kill a cow. And while the county disputes abuse claims by animal activists, many questions remain.

"At the heart of the issue is the 'kill room,'  where unwanted animals get their deadly doses of Fatal Plus. As one editor explained, you need to see this room to fully understand what goes on there. Another editor pointed out that newspapers take readers to places they cannot go themselves."

Needs tells us that a reader who had just had her dog, suffering from cancer, euthanized, wrote: "Thank you so much for tearing open my heart that still aches for the pet I recently lost.... I only wish that you could be as haunted by that image as I am.''

He responds, "I'm glad the photo wasn't full color, big on the front page. But I also understand how painful it was for many to confront the reality of the 'kill room.' Perhaps that emotion can be channeled into efforts to prevent more pets from ending up there. Sometimes it takes a shocking photo to draw attention to a serious issue."

The slogan for the Genesis Awards is "Cruelty Can't Stand the Spotlight." We hope it is true. What is certainly true is that the horrendous and common suffering our society inflicts on millions of animals every year is rarely given the spotlight. And in this instance, when it was, the paper received mostly irate feedback.

At the bottom of Mike Needs's column it says:

"Send comments about the Beacon Journal to Public Editor Mike Needs. Phone: 330-996-3860. E-mail: mneeds@thebeaconjournal.com " 

Needs and his editors deserve some positive feedback. Please take a moment to thank them for being willing to disturb their readers by sharing the offensive truth -- a truth that might shock the city into calling for change. 

You may like to send a letter to the editor: vop@thebeaconjournal.com . You must include your name, address and phone number to be considered for publication.


The Thursday, December 11, Los Angeles Times, included a particularly lovely article encouraging people to adopt rather than purchase dogs. Written by Barbara King, the editor of the Home Section, it is headed "They know what you've done for them" and sub-headed, "Pass up the puppy mills and backyard breeders in favor of a pet that needs you every bit as much as you need it." Accompanying the article is a large photo of Diane Keaton (who stars in a new movie opening today, with Jack Nicholson, called "Something's Gotta Give") holding one of the dogs from a rescue campaign called  "Home 4 the Holidays." She is the campaign's celebrity spokesperson.

 King opens the article with a discussion of a visit to Angel Canyon in Utah where "the country's largest sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals is located." She is referring to the wonderful sanctuary Best Friends: http://www.BestFriends.org

 She writes, "By the time I got back to L.A., I was a tolerable human being again, rescued from the vulgarity of self-indulgence by animals who themselves had been rescued from the far more profound abyss of cruelty and indifference."

 She mentions her own adopted dogs, then writes:

 "Adopted animals are 'eternally grateful. They know what you've done for them,' one of my vets told me when I asked why Callie, another of my foundlings, practically sang arias in my presence and gave me misty-eyed looks that put me in mind of Nancy Reagan gazing at Ronnie.

"And we know what they've done for us, all of us who live with them. Beyond this, anything I might say now by way of further explication would taste like a bowl of sugared mush, so I'll take leave of the sentiment by saying only this: They open up the world of emotion to you, expand its boundaries, make it possible for you to make a fool of yourself and not care a whit."

King tells us about the 'Home 4 the Holidays' program "that began four years ago in Southern California and has since spread with startling effectiveness and speed to 1,300 shelters in 20 countries."  She shares a quote from the program's creator, Michael Arms, who says he wants the animals going into homes this Christmas to be "the orphaned ones, those in shelters, rather than those from puppy mills and backyard breeders. I wanted to really bring attention to all the wonderful animals who are looking for homes, who don't want to keep waking up behind bars."

We read encouraging statistics about the program:

"So far, more than 300,000 animals have been adopted worldwide as part of the Home 4 the Holidays drive — which runs from early November to just after New Year's — and Arms has a goal this year of adding 225,000 more to that figure. Only 2% of animals adopted from the program have been returned, a much smaller percentage, says Arms, than the throwaways who have been purchased from pet stores or breeders 'often on impulse, because they're cute,' and later dumped or delivered to shelters."

King ends her column with heartfelt words of appreciation for celebrities, such as Keaton, who "put their fame to work for something other than self-promotion and get out there to promote animal welfare." She writes, "If ever I were in their presence, I imagine I would trill arias to them and follow them around with moist, adoring brown eyes, just like my dog Callie."

 It is a lovely article, and important, as it appears in one of the country's biggest papers as puppy buying season approaches. You can read it on line at:


 Please consider writing a quick supportive letter to the editor. You may want to include information about the importance of spay-neuter to prevent over-population  (all animals adopted from shelters in California are 'fixed' -- but purchased animals need not be) and share your own joyous experiences with rescued animals.

 The Los Angeles Times takes letters at: letters@latimes.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

You can thank Barbara King for the article at: barbara.king@latimes.com


The New Jersey bear hunt is on the front page of the Thursday, December 11, Chicago Tribune. The story, by Kirsten Scharnberg, is headed "Activists square off with hunters and state wildlife officials, who have declared the animals a menace."

 It opens, "Smiling proudly, a father and son dressed in winter camouflage and blaze orange caps emerged from the hills beyond Lake Wawayanda. In the bed of their pickup truck lay a 200-pound female black bear, her large paws outstretched, her head slumped to one side as though she was sleeping.

 "'She was a healthy, hearty female,' said Martin McHugh, director of New Jersey's Division of Fish and Wildlife.

"The bear, shot Tuesday afternoon in the snowy woods of northern New Jersey, was one of more than 215 bears killed in the three days since the state opened a six-day black bear hunting season this week, the first such hunt in 33 years.

"The brief season, which is scheduled to end Saturday and has been touted by state officials as necessary to curb an overpopulation of black bears, has provoked fiery controversy."

You can read the whole article on line at:


 The Chicago Tribune takes letters at:  ctc-TribLetter@Tribune.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

One of the groups leading the opposition to the bear hunt is the Fund for Animals. Mike Markarian, president of the Fund, was kind enough to share with me (and permit me to share with you) his letter to The New York Times, in which he gives a compelling argument against the hunt as a way to deal with with "problem bears." He writes, "state officials already had the ability to kill problem bears. Those killed during the six-day hunt were likely just minding their own business. Shooting bears at random (is)... like trying to reduce crime by shooting into a crowded room."

See the alert below for more information, including contact information for Governor McGreevey.


New Jersey's bear hunt continues. A story on Newark's Star-Ledger website, by Brian T. Murray and Judy Peet, is headed "Bear tally increases and hunt will widen to federal park land." It includes the following description of the death of a cub:

"And in a sad footnote, morning rush-hour commuters on Route 23 in West Milford got a front-row view of the hunt, when a mortally wounded cub staggered out of the woods, lay down with his head resting on the road, and died.

"'It just broke my heart, sitting there in traffic watching him die,' said Kari Casper, a fourth-grade teacher from Vernon who was on her way to work in Lincoln Park.

"'He was just a little guy and looked so lonely, lying there with snow on his paws,' said Casper, who said she cried as she watched the bear for about 20 minutes as she sat in traffic.

"West Milford police said they received at least 25 calls around 7:30 a.m. about the injured cub.

"'When we got there, he was dead and there were all these cars pulled on the side of the road and people crying,' police dispatcher Lorraine Steins said. "I feel like we should apologize to the bears.'

"Steins said a hunter showed up some time later, identified the cub as his kill and took it away. The hunter was not cited because he had the proper state permit and had tracked the wounded bear out of the woods. There is no way to control where a wounded bear will go to die."

You can read the whole story at:


 The Star Ledger takes letters at: eletters@starledger.com 

 Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

 And Governor McGreevey and Commissioner Campbell take phone calls at:

 Gov McGreevey 609-292-6000 or 609-777 2500

Com. Campbell 609-292-2885

This is the first bear hunt in New Jersey for 33 years. Perhaps an overwhelming public outcry, from all over the country, will make it the last. Please call. And please be polite, for the sake of the bears, who need representatives who sound strong, persistent, and sane -- even when we are deeply distressed.


        Harry Spiker weighs the first bear killed     

Keith Meyers/The New York Times

The Tuesday, December 9, New York Times, includes a story about the New Jersey bear hunt, and two anti-hunting op-eds.

"As Hunters Kill, Protesters Howl" (pg A25), by Robert Hanley and Jason George, includes a photo of a dead female bear being weighed. The web version includes an even more upsetting photo, in which you can see her face -- she looks rather like somebody's dog who has been hit by a car.

 The article opens, "Thirty-three years after New Jersey's last bear hunt, hundreds of hunters armed with shotguns and muzzle-loading rifles tromped through a foot of snow on Monday in search of some of what could be as many as 3,300 black bears thought to be living in northwest New Jersey.

 "The six-day hunt had been alternately hailed as an attempt to cull a bear population that had grown to dangerous proportions and lambasted as a cruel exercise in human vanity."

 We learn, "There was speculation early in the day that the snow would keep the bears in their dens, where hunters were forbidden by the rules of the hunt. But by 5 p.m., hunters had killed 61 bears, the largest weighing 498 pounds.... Hunters who spent a futile day in the snowy woods said more bears would have been killed if the weather were warmer and the ridges and swamps of northwestern New Jersey were free of snow. After all, they noted, bears have not been hunted in the state since 1970 and have no wariness of hunters."

 There is a strong quote from Steve Ember, a member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club:  "This is an extermination, not a hunt."

 The editorial page includes an op-ed by Charles Siebert, headed, "A New Bear in Town." From that article we learn, "In July, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council approved a hunt" and that "the commissioner ultimately decided to back the council's decision, as did a reluctant Gov. James E. McGreevy, a Democrat who had won the backing of environmental groups in part by promising to protect the state's bears." 

 Siebert writes, "Hunting has become its own kind of endangered species, a long-ago ritualized form of recreation (not to mention a hefty source of state revenue). But as a method of animal-population control and containment it is a shot in the dark." He would like to see steps taken to discourage bears from approaching human occupied terrain, and writes, "As for those bears that prove resistant to all efforts at re-education, selective euthanasia by professional sharpshooters is surely a preferable alternative to the invariably messy exploits of amateur hunters set loose among an indeterminate number of free-roaming bears."

 In the same paper, an op-ed by HSUS's Wayne Pacelle discusses a specific type of hunting known as a "canned hunt," in which animals, fenced in on a ranch, are shot. One pays the ranch owner for a guaranteed kill. The piece is headed, "Stacking the Hunt."  We learn,

"In the United States, there are at least 4,000 'canned hunting' operations, where people may pay thousands of dollars to pursue trophy animals that have little chance to escape. Bird-shooting operations offer pheasants, quail, partridges and mallard ducks, sometimes dizzying the birds and planting them in front of hunters or tossing them from towers toward waiting shotguns."

 Canned hunts flourish despite opposition from animal advocates, many hunters, and some hunting groups. A key supporter is the Safari Club. Pacelle tells us about that group's award program:

 "To win the club's Africa Big Five award, for example, you have to go to Africa to shoot the elephant, the rhinoceros and the leopard, but you can pick off the Cape buffalo and the lion in the United States. There is even an award for Introduced Trophy Animals of North America, in which you can do all your hunting for 18 different species right here at home. In fact, you can shoot all of the species for an award category at just one place. It's one-stop shopping. No more expensive fortnights in the wilds of Africa — and no one to know whether the head mounted above the mantel came from Asia or Oklahoma."

 Pacelle reminds us that this year, New York almost passed a law banning canned hunts, but it was vetoed by Gov. George Pataki.

 Though the piece presents an excellent argument against this form of hunting, I was disturbed by the opening: "This fall, more than 10 million Americans went hunting. Some met with success, maybe even managing to bring home some ducks or geese or a deer. Of those who returned empty-handed, many did so with the knowledge that a fair hunt comes with no guarantees."

 Fair hunt? Fenced in or not, I doubt the ducks, geese or deer would consider hunts to be fair unless they too were provided with fire-arms and trained in their use. There is nothing fair about hunting those gentle animals. Long before Pacelle became a superb DC lobbyist on behalf the animals and one of our movement's most effective representatives in the media, he earned his radical animal rights activist credentials as a hunt saboteur. We can be sure he is not a fan of any hunting, and no doubt is using the term "fair" loosely, while referring to what one might call "traditional" hunts, where the animals have some chance of escape. However, I think it is a shame, even when we are on the same side as some hunters on an issue, to buy into their interpretation of the "sport" and use their language. It runs the risk of suggesting that a representative of the Humane Society of the United States, while coming out against canned hunts, is condoning other forms of hunting for sport. On the contrary, the HSUS has a superb anti-hunting page on the web at: http://www.hsus.org/ace/12043 

 That page is a good reference page for arguments against hunting. And the bear hunt story, and the two op-eds, present a great opportunity for anti-hunting letters to the New York Times.

 The Times takes letters at: letters@nytimes.com

 Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

 You can read the full articles on line:

 "As Hunters Kill, Protesters Howl":


 "A New Bear in Town":


 "Stacking the Hunt":



The Los Angeles Times has given front page coverage to the story of an animal rights activist who used to work on the killing floor at a Tyson processing plant. The article, by Stephanie Simon, is headed "A Killing Floor Chronicle." It tells of Virgil Butler's efforts to spread the word about the suffering of chickens at such plants, by posting his tale, in daily segments, at: http://www.cyberactivist.blogspot.com

 We read,

 "Butler's blog, which runs more than 200 pages, describes everything from the bird droppings that seemed to hang in the air ('kind of gritty, like Metamucil, and kind of salty') to the panic he thought he saw in the chickens ('sometimes, you catch one looking up at you, eye to eye, and you know it's terrified'). He spares no gore in recounting the slaughter, including the occasional mishaps that condemn some birds to broken bones, shocks, bruises and being boiled alive in the scalding tank."

 There is a quote from Bruce Webster, a poultry scientist at the University of Georgia who advises KFC on animal welfare. He says such mistakes are '"not common in terms of the number of birds per thousand affected, but if you stand there long enough, you will probably see it happen."

There are also a great quotes from people who stopped eating chicken after reading the accounts on Butler's page.

 The article makes Butler, perhaps, seem like a questionable character, noting that he has served time in jail for manslaughter and has been arrested on drug charges. But it is highly likely, particularly with its front page placement, to drive many people to take a look at Butler's blog; there they will get quite an education as to what goes on at poultry 'processing plants.'

 You can read the Los Angeles Times article on line at: 


 The Los Angeles Times, one of American's largest newspapers, has printed quite a few animal friendly articles lately -- poultry friendly in particular, which is gratifying since over 98% of the animals killed every year in this country are birds, and they are the animals who are least protected by legislation. The LA Times recently ran a prominently placed story on an effort in Sonoma to ban foie gras, also an article about the live hen wood-chipping incident, and it ran our op-ed in response to that incident. And the paper published many extremely animal friendly letters in response to all of those articles.

 Please send the Los Angeles Times appreciative letters to the editor in response to this detailed front page story about an activist who devotes his time to the plight of chickens. The article itself did not focus that much on animal suffering, so it would be great if letters to the editor could address that issue and perhaps note the joys of a diet free of animal products. The best resource I know for information on the plight of chickens is the United Poultry Concerns website, http://www.upc-online.org/

 The Los Angeles Times takes letters at: letters@latimes.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.


The serious problems at the National Zoo are on the front page of the Sunday, December 7, Washington Post.  The article, by Karlyn Barker and James V. Grimaldi, is headed "Pattern of Mistakes Found in Zoo Deaths."

It opens:
"Neglect, misdiagnosis or other mistakes have marked the deaths of 23 animals at the National Zoo in the past six years, and some veterinary records are incomplete or were changed after the fact, according to documents and interviews with current and former zoo employees."

The article is lengthy, detailed and shocking. We learn of a lion who died after being given twice the dose of anesthesia he had received on previous occasions, even though his records recommended that he receive less than he had in the past, due to having had a seizure. We learn that two zebras died of starvation, after the director, a veterinarian, had decided they looked too fat and ordered their rations cut in half. And we learn of an orangutan who was euthanized when it was decided that the cancer for which she had been treated had returned and was the cause of her chronic diarrhea. A necropsy showed no cancer, but rather Salmonella, for which she should have had a simple fecal test and which would have been easily treated with drugs.

Truly disturbing is that the veterinary reports on the animals appear to have been doctored to cover up incompetence. The Post acquired sets of records printed out, generally a few days after the deaths, by pathologist Donald Nichols. He has been providing information to  the National Academy of Sciences, which is investigating the animal deaths. The paper also received records, at a later date, provided by the zoo. Those records had damning pieces of information deleted, and also sudden additions which made the veterinary action or inaction seem more palatable.

The article provides some fascinating detail about the reports. It can be read on line at:

The Washington Post also had this story on its front page back on March 5th. The paper has done a great job of putting pressure on the zoo and deserves some appreciative letters to the editor. But I hope letters from animal rights advocates will also address the bigger picture: Is it appropriate for us to hold members of other species captive and put them on display for our amusement?

In a terrific essay entitled "Against Zoos" (printed in In Defense of Animals, edited by Peter Singer, Harper and Row, 1985) Dale Jamieson writes that there is "a moral presumption against keeping wild animals in captivity." He continues, "What this involves, after all, is taking animals out of their native habitats, transporting them great distances and keeping them in alien environments in which their liberty is severely restricted. It is surely true that in being taken from the wild and confined in zoos, animals are deprived of a great many goods. For the most part they are prevented from gathering their own food, developing their own social orders and generally behaving in ways that are natural to them."

A PETA fact sheet draws on that essay, and many other articles and studies, in order to present a succinct argument headed "Zoos: Pitiful Prisons." It discusses rampant zoochosis and also the chilling fate of animals bred for zoos, who are popular only when young. You'll find it on line at:

Also on line, at http://www.noazark.org/links/the_cruel_zoo.htm, you'll find an essay by Dr. Michael W. Fox, headed "The Zoo: A Cruel and Outmoded Institution?" Fox notes that today's zoos, often radically different from the old iron and concrete varieties, take much money to run, and must therefore be paid for with " dubious circus like shows" involving performing animals who attract visitors. He writes, "What tricks and obedience the animals display are more a reflection of the power of human control than of the animals natural behavior."

The National Zoo is actually paid for by taxpayers -- that includes the "$250 million capital improvement plan" underway as noted in the Post article. Yet still, that zoo boasts a daily "Elephant Training Demo" and seal or sea lion training displays.

A philosophical paper, by Dr Steve Best, headed "Zoos and the end of Nature" tells us, "The zoo is the perfect symbol then for the entombment of the planet, for the sarcophagus of animal species, and for a human power pathology spiraling out of control." You'll find it on line at:

All of the above are well worth reading. I would recommend taking a look at one or two of them, and jotting off a few lines to the Post, thanking the paper for its coverage and then addressing the bigger issue. The Post takes letters at: letters@washpost.com

Please take care not to use any exact language from me or the articles I cite. Since our responses are not form letters, it would be a shame if the editor interpreted them as such.

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.


The Business section of the Sunday, December 7, New York Times has an article looking at home demos and other personal attacks by animal rights activists against those in involved in animal exploitation industries. The article, by Alex Markels, is headed, "Protesters Carry the Fight to Executives' Homes."

It opens telling us of a stunt by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, or SHAC, which targets those who do business with the notorious Huntingdon Life Sciences animal testing lab: a woman opened the door to a person delivering a coffin that had been ordered for her.

 Markels writes,

 "The notion of harassing employees beyond the confines of the workplace is hardly new to the corporate protest movement. But in the years since the filmmaker Michael Moore first pursued Roger Smith, then the chief executive of General Motors, in the movie 'Roger and Me,' protesters fed up with conventional methods of dissent have carried out increasingly intrusive incursions into the homes, neighborhoods and the private lives of businesspeople.

"Such 'home demo' protests, most of which are legal, according to the F.B.I., have succeeded in intimidating executives at dozens of companies into ending business relationships with Huntingdon and have helped push executives of fast-food restaurants and grocery chains to adopt more rigorous animal welfare standards. Such success is increasingly touted by activists eager to find ways to stop things like abusive labor and free-trade practices and the cutting of old-growth forests."

 The article discusses PETA's campaign against Burger King, which included calls made by Ingrid Newkirk to the wife of the company's chief executive: "With months of telephone calls, handwritten letters and parcels filled with videos depicting farm animal cruelty, Ms. Newkirk says she persuaded Mrs. Dasburg to show one of the videos to her husband." Similar tactics have been employed in the KFC campaign. Newkirk is quoted, "'People may say, 'Oh, isn't it awful that they harass them in their homes,' but the sad fact is that it's often the only thing that works."

The article discusses the SHAC campaign as "one of the best examples of that." Markels writes  of HLS, "approximately 85,000 animals are killed annually in company tests of things like new drugs and agricultural chemicals."  We read, "Michael Caulfield, Huntingdon's general manager, acknowledged that the harassment has hurt his company and his associates."  But Caulfield says of SHAC that "their bark is generally worse than their bite." Frankie L. Trull, however, who is president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, suggests that physical violence is "in the offing" and that "she worries that the campaign could spread to other animal testing firms and undermine necessary research."

The article ends with an interesting quote from SHAC's Kevin Jonas: "The more we're painted in the media as terrorists the better, because no investment banker or pharmaceutical client is going to want to touch Huntingdon with a 10-foot pole."

 You can read the whole story on line at:


 One of the complaints some mainstream activists have against harassment tactics is that they can make the abusers seem like victims in the eyes of the public. And they can take the media and public focus off animal suffering. This article at least reminds the public that there are those who vehemently oppose animal testing and fast food industry cruelty -- one could argue that such a reminder is better than media silence. But there is a price to the movement's image (Jonas might say it's a dividend) and indeed, this article is all about activists and tactics -- it hardly mentions animal suffering. Letters to the editor, however, can redress the omission.

 Please remind the New York Times what it is that SHAC and/or PETA are protesting.

You will find loads of information on the SHAC campaign at:

http://www.shacamerica.net/  or at http://shac.net/ where you can watch some of the hideous undercover video taken at HLS.

 And you can learn all about the KFC campaign at:


 The New York Times takes letters at: letters@nytimes.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.



The latest offering from Carol J. Adams, "The Pornography of Meat" is reviewed this week on the National Review Online website.

Adams was expecting a less than lovely review from the conservative magazine; her expectation was met. But though the reviewer hated the book, I rather like the review. It does a reasonable job of presenting Adams's provocative argument -- good enough to generate some interest amongst the magazine's more thoughtful readers. And some of Jason Steorts's arguments against the book are weak enough to be easily discounted. So, it is a good bad review.

 The article carries the inviting heading, "Sex on the Kitchen Table." Steorts tells us "The book's central thesis is that the culture of meat eating is an expression of male power. According to Adams, men see life on earth as a hierarchy in which women occupy a higher place than animals (or, to use Adams's preferred term, 'non-humans'), but men rule over both."

 More or less --  not so much that men see things that way, but that meat eating is an intrinsic part of a patriarchal society.

 Though he calls it "pseudo-philosophical jargon," Steorts presents, fairly, Adams' compelling theory of the "Absent referent."

First he quotes her:

"Before someone can be consumed or used, she has to be seen as consumable, as usable, as a something instead of a someone."

Then in a snide tone he further explains the idea, and gets it pretty much right:

"Don't let those words 'someone' and 'she' lead you astray: Adams is talking about animals, not people. Meat eaters take 'someone who is a unique being' and make it into 'something that is the appropriate referent of a mass term.'  Bessie the Cow is thus transformed into an 'absent referent' — and when you eat your hamburger, you think of it not as poor Bessie, but simply as ground beef.

"Adams thinks the dominant male culture does something similar to women."


He also explains her term "anthropornography": "the depiction of nonhuman animals as whores," and notes that she sees it "particularly in advertisements that portray animals in a feminine manner." Then he writes, "Confronted with such evidence, one might conclude simply that some advertisers use sex to sell food. This is hardly surprising: Advertisers use sex to sell just about everything, and while doing so might be in poor taste, it is rarely pornographic."

But I look at an image on page 14: We see a roasted chicken, photographed from above, wings crossed behind what should be the head but is the severed neck. A bikini has been painted on the carcass, so we have the impression of a sunbathing woman, roasting in the sun. The picture could not possibly be interpreted as sexy, as the use of sex to sell; it is grotesque. So Steorts's explanation won't work. But it is easy to see Adams's point here -- that a link is being drawn between two consumable objects.

The book is filled with fascinating images in which we see animals feminized and women animalized. Steorts writes that Adams "manages to find misogyny in the most curious places — such as, for example, a photograph of a filet mignon with a bite cut from it." I too found a few of her analogies hard to see -- sometimes they are clear, sometimes too much of a stretch. But the pictures and arguments are  thought-provoking.

Steorts, however, finds her argument "noxious" because of "her ridiculous assumption that animals are entitled to the same protection from harm as human beings." He sneers at the idea that Adams knows "what it is like to look at a nonhuman animal and have an individual look back." Then comes a line with which I suspect he will lose many of his readers, not just the vegetarians. He writes that Adams "simply repeats the adolescent cant that animals have feelings too — an unverifiable claim at best, and one that, in any case, contains no argument."

There was a time when scientists tried to tell us that animals have no feelings. Thankfully we are finally seeing a shift even in that industry, which has such a vested interest in questioning animal sentience and emotion. But is there anybody in the general public who needs verification for the claim that animals have feelings? Certainly nobody who has ever lived with a dog -- and most American's have, at some time in their lives.

That's why I like the review. Steorts reveals that his antipathy comes from an anti animal stance far too strong to be shared by the majority of his readers. And he does a decent job of presenting Adams's arguments, likely to pique some interest in the book.

You can read his review at:


'The Pornography of Meat' is short, easy to read, and loaded with provocative images from popular culture. It would make a great holiday gift for anybody with an interest in feminism. You can buy it from Amazon at:


I know many of my subscribers are fans of Carol Adams. If you are, and like The Pornography of Meat, please take a few minutes to post a short review on Amazon. If you go to the page linked above, and click on the book title or jacket, you will get to a page which has reviews and a place under "All customer reviews" where you can "Write an online review."


The Los Angeles Times, Monday, December 1, has run an op-ed I wrote with Peter Singer about the live hen wood chipping incident, and the appalling record of the AVMA on farmed animal welfare. It is headed, "Back at the Ranch, A Horror Story," (Part 2, Page 11.)

 It opens, "A ranch owner in San Diego County disposes of 30,000 nonproductive egg-laying hens by feeding them into a wood chipper. Live hens are dumped into the shredder, some likely to hit feet first, some breast first. Sound like a scene from a horror movie? It's a true story. One would surely expect the ranchers to be prosecuted, but California humane slaughter laws do not cover unproductive egg-laying hens."

 We learn that the hens should have been covered by the California anti-cruelty statute, which (unlike in many states) does not exempt farmed animals. However, since the act was allegedly supervised by a veterinarian who is on the American Veterinary Medical Association's animal welfare committee, the district attorney could not find criminal intent on the part of the ranchers who were just "following professional advice."

 We would like to have expressed our surprise that someone on the AVMA's animal welfare committee would have condoned such an act. But the op-ed notes AVMA stances on farmed animal welfare that are clearly not in the best interest of the animals. For example, the AVMA refuses to take a clear stance against forced molting (the starving of hens in order to induce an extra round of laying) and opposes legislation that would ban the housing of sows in crates so small that the animals cannot even turn around or lie down with legs outstretched.

 You can read the full op-ed on line at:


 Or I have a copy on my website for those who want to avoid registering and signing in with the LA Times: Back at the Ranch

 I would be thrilled to see letters to the editor reminding people that eggs, or any animal products, are not a necessary part of the human diet; one sure way to avoid being part of this kind of cruelty is to give them up. Also, very useful, would be appreciative letters to the editor thanking the Times for printing an op-ed focusing on farmed animal issues. Please write.

 The Los Angeles Times takes letters at: letters@latimes.com


Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

 If you are shocked, or at least disgusted, to learn that a vet on the animal welfare committee of the AVMA condones putting live hens in wood chippers, please share your reaction with that organization and request Gregg Cutler's removal. You might also voice your opinion about the AVMA's stances on forced molting and sow gestation crates.

 The AVMA can be emailed at: avmainfo@avma.org

Or letters (almost always better than email when dealing with anybody outside the media) can be sent to:

American Veterinary Medical Association Headquarters:
1931 North Meacham Road - Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173

or faxed to:  847-925-1329

 I send a huge thank you to Karen Davis, of United Poultry Concerns  (http://www.upc-online.org/) for all of her work on the wood chipper case, including the acquisition of documents we relied upon for the Los Angeles Times op-ed.